After the successful launch of its Xbox 360 Kinect gaming device, Microsoft Corp. decided to refresh the packaging lineup for its Xbox hardware product line. In the process, the company gave a new look to its console and accessory devices, including a new package for the Kinect device, which improves the "opening ceremony" for users of its Xbox 360 products. The refresh also brought visual cohesion to packages across the brand and made them user-friendlier.
The new design had particular significance for Kinect. Among the brand's primary business objectives is broadening gaming's appeal beyond hard-core players by creating family-friendly gaming experiences and enhancing social experiences through multi-media including Facebook and Netflix. Jeff Loth, Microsoft structural packaging manager, says that packaging and branding contributed greatly to welcoming new consumers to Xbox.
Microsoft's packaging team worked with Atlason, a design agency, on initial concepts that highlighted the newly designed hardware. Two different console packages were designed. One is for standalone units, which began distribution in June. The other is for the console bundled with the Kinect sensor, and this package began appearing in stores in November. Microsoft also took the occasion to redesign the packaging for about 20 Xbox accessory products.
"Design emphasis was placed on staging the hardware components and supporting information to enhance the user experience and optimize the system for quick set-up, allowing the end consumer to get into initial game play as fast as possible," Loth explains. "The optimal packaging design can aid this rather than getting in the way."
In June 2010, Microsoft introduced the redesigned, standalone Xbox 360 console, a smaller, slimmer, and sleeker unit than the previous version. The console is offered in two versions: Premium (250 GB hard drive and high-gloss surface) and Value (4 GB and a matte surface). Microsoft also introduced a new paperboard carton to market the console.
"Key elements of the previous console packaging were maintained, while new cushioning was designed in the form of EVA foam end caps to offer a high degree of resilient cushioning within a minimal amount of space inside the package," says Ketty Yuen, the packaging lead who drove the design development for the new console.
Microsoft began introducing the second console package in November to coincide with the launch of its new Kinect sensor—the centerpiece of the new Xbox packaging lineup. This carton bundles the console with the sensor, with the objective of creating a memorable opening experience for users of the new Kinect product. (The sensor also is sold separately.)
To help consumers easily navigate the Xbox lineup on shelf, a purple splash on the carton signifies Kinect and Kinect-related hardware products.
As consumers direct their attention inside the package, their eyes fixate on the sensor. Rather than covering up the sensor, the package invites the consumer to experience an "ah-ha" moment upon opening the carton, explains David Dunham, lead packaging program manager for Kinect.
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